Love among the artists

From The London Times:

KATEY: The Life and Loves of Dickens’s Artist Daughter by Lucinda Hawksley. To his public, Dickens was a sun, dispensing warmth, light and laughter. But to his family he was a black hole — a vast, irresistible attractor that sucked all the energy and willpower out of them, and left them limp. Of his 10 children, only two made anything of their lives — Katey, the subject of this biography, and Henry, who became a high-court judge and was Lucinda Hawksley’s great-great-grandfather.

Katey, born in 1839, was Dickens’s favourite. He nicknamed her Lucifer Box because of her fiery nature. Her talent for painting and drawing soon became apparent, and he arranged for her to have lessons at Bedford College. To outsiders, the Dickens children’s life seemed idyllic — the fun and frivolity, the hilarious parties and parlour games, with Dickens as indefatigable master of ceremonies, the famous Christmases at Gad’s Hill, the summers in France, Italy or Switzerland. Thackeray’s daughter Anny remembered how she envied the Dickens daughters’ white satin shoes and long flowing white sashes. Their father’s fame ensured a constant stream of fascinating visitors — writers, actors, artists. Katey got to know John Everett Millais, and in his 1860 Royal Academy painting The Black Brunswicker he used her as the model for the distraught girl clinging to her soldier lover, who is off to Waterloo.

But there was another side.

More here.